The New Topsail Schooner Amistad

Amistad is the latest vessel to be built from TCM's designs.  It is a Baltimore Clipper and a near replica of the infamous and eponymous La Amistad.  

Launch of Amistad, March 25, 2000


Amistad underway

Rail length

85.1 ft

Length on deck

80.7 ft

Length waterline

77.8 ft


22.9 ft


10.1 ft


136 Ltons



Principal Dimensions

Read more about the construction and mission of the Amistad at Amistad America's site. Amistad was built at Mystic Seaport Museum in 1999 and launched on March 25, 2000.


History of the infamous La Amistad

The Spanish slaving schooner La Amistad was prominent in a historically important event that went far beyond the significance of the vessel alone. On June 26, 1839, 53 black Africans, who were being transported as slaves in La Amistad from the port of Havana, revolted and took command of the vessel. Their subsequent capture and imprisonment in New London, Connecticut on August 26, 1839, foreshadowed a long series of human rights struggles in the US courts that have continued to this day.

Believed to be "Baltimore Built", the Amistad, at 70 46/95 tons Customs House Measurement, represents the smallest of a class of schooners and brigs built specifically for the slave trade between 1820 and 1850. A group of six schooners built in Baltimore around 1836 and identified as being "Purposely built and fitted out for use in the slave trade by the US Counsel General in Havana", were typical of the class. They had the following registered tonnages:




91 89/95 


91 89/95

Two Sisters

135 90/95


119 57/95


115 64/95


117 90/95

These "Baltimore Clippers", as they were called, were unique for the period both in design and proportion. The characteristic low freeboard and towering raked rigs identified them identified them as having been built in the Chesapeake Bay. A contemporary painting of La Amistad at the New Haven Historical Society clearly shows a Baltimore Clipper type. This painting, typical of ship portraits of that era, showed the vessel with an "enhanced" freeboard and the people at a slightly smaller scale.

Examples of the unique hull models and rigs of these vessels are well documented, and there are many accounts of how they sailed. The Baltimore Clipper as a type was only useful in occupations where modest capacity and fast sailing were required -- primarily privateering and the illicit transport of slaves. Many of the privateers from the War of 1812 were bought by slavers who also had subsequent vessels built from the privateer model. This influence brought about changes to the design that can be summarized as follows:

Ultimately, they evolved from privateers to become extreme downwind flyers for the Tropical Atlantic.


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